The Whitsunday Islands are a collection of islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia. We visited the Whitsundays on a trip whilst we were living in Sydney. The Whitsundays are a dream for any travel blogger or beach lover with its white sand, glass-turquoise waters, colourful corals and selection of marine life.
There are many ways to visit the Whitsundays such as flying in to Hamilton Island, taking a helicopter, or by sailing with a tour or renting your own boat. We decided to fly to Cairns from Sydney and rent a car. We then drove to Airlie Beach (with other stops on the way which I will do a separate post on) and stayed in a hotel and booked a multi-day sailing sailing trip with Whitsunday Blue. We were in the Whitsundays for three days and also visited the Great Barrier Reef where we snorkeled and dived with nemo and friends.
2. Seven Commandos Beach, El Nido
If you are looking for picture-perfect paradise then El Nido is a must for your bucket list. Majority of our research for the Philippines involved how to get to the beaches and lagoons in El Nido. El Nido is located at the most northern point of Palawan, it has become one of the most popular destinations for tourists in the Philippines.
The Philippines has many picture perfect beaches. To visit a few of my bucket list worthy favourites, I would recommend flying to Caticlan Airport and starting your journey in Boracay, you can only reach Boracay by boat after flying to Caticlan Airport or a further airport. Boracay is a small island in Philippines, it is known for its resorts and beaches. Along the west coast of the island, White Beach is surrounded by palm trees, bars and restaurants. On the east coast, there is Bulabog Beach which is renowned for its water sports activities. I would recommend staying in White Beach in a luxury resort (it sounds expensive, but it will cost you the same as a takeaway). My next tip would be to fly directly from Caticlan Airport to El Nido. Brace yourself if you are afraid of planes as the plane is really small and the landing strip is even smaller in El Nido! I also recommend having your airport transfer secured and booked in advance as this is the only airport I have been to where a taxi is not waiting outside for you to haggle on prices with.
We stayed in Carong Carong where there is Wi-Fi, but getting it to work is a different story. There is also no signal for if you want to purchase data - so enjoy a few days of peace and quiet and get your day trips booked to the beaches and lagoons! There are four main island hopping tours in El Nido, so it does not matter where you stay as the tour bus will pick you up at your accommodation. To find out more about the tours visit El Nido Paradise. The photo below is taken at the stunning Seven Commandos Beach. They say that the name comes from World War II, when seven commandos were stranded here. The beach can only be accessed by boat on one of the island hopping tours.
3. Saona Island, Dominican Republic
This is one of the few beaches I have not backpacked to find, but it is one of my favourite. We stayed in a resort in the Dominican Republic and Saona Island was one of trips we took. Saona Island has crystal clear waters and a postcard worthy beach. Christopher Columbus discovered Saona Island on September 14, 1494. He gave the spot its name in honor of a friend from Italy.
The Natural Pool is one of the Island's most famous attractions. It is the largest natural pool in the world. This means you can walk hundreds of feet out into the ocean with the water only coming up to your waist. We booked an all day trip to Saona Island and were there for the sunset. We also met some of the local people living in the village on Saona Island (they have a population of roughly 300) and if you know me, you will know this was my favourite part of the day. I captured this photo after a day of swimming, snorkeling and eating BBQ food.
4. Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
I have been to Bali twice and altogether I have spent just over two months travelling the island, i will do a seperate blog post on my guide to Bali. When I first went to Gili T as a solo backpacker I was exploring the island for different reasons (partying on only one strip of the island) than when I returned with my husband two years later to explore everything Gili T had to offer. Gili T is known as ''backpackers paradise''. The East of the island is the most developed with restaurants, bars and hostels. The West is reserved for luxury stays and resorts.
This is one of my favourite shots from the island. Chris and I rented bikes and cycled around the whole island then stopped here to lie on a hammock and sip a few cocktails and beers!
6. Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay
If you google ''beach with whitest sand in the world'' Hyams Beach is at the top of the google search. Jervis Bay is located a three hour drive from Sydney and is renowned for its white beaches. If you are living or visiting Sydney I recommend a trip to Jervis Bay as a weekend getaway.
We rented a car and drove from Sydney to Jervis Bay, you can take the motorway and head South from Sydney inland, or drive along the coast. We took the sea view route called the ''Grand Pacific Drive'' and to our welcomed surprise, we found this to be one of the most scenic drives in Australia.
Jervis Bay has many luxury hotels, at a price, or you can make the most of the many campsites they have. We decided to camp - for the first time ever - when we visited Jervis Bay. We booked a space on one of the campsites near Hyams Beach. The campsites have warm showers, easy to use gas stoves and (most importantly) private toilets.
There is so much to do in Jervis Bay but our favourite was visiting Hyams Beach and getting roped in to fishing with the locals.
7. Castaway Island, Fiji
Fiji needs to be on everyone's bucket list!
Fiji is a collection of beautiful beaches and resorts. There are more than 300 small white sand islands scattered in the warm waters of the South Pacific. Fiji is proof that paradise exists. The skies are blue, the waters are superbly clear and the scenery is beautiful. If you decide to embark on a journey to Fiji, be sure to visit a local village to get a taste of the culture, the people of Fiji is one of the reasons I found the country so special. Fijians welcome you as if you were their family.
We visited three islands in Fiji. My favourite was Castaway Island. Castaway Island is inhabited with a tourist resort on the West side accessible only by boat or seaplane. Fun fact - Cast Away the film was not actually filmed on Castaway Island, although they do hold the famous Wilson you can borrow for a photo.
We started our journey by flying to the main airport in Fiji mainland, Nadi, and booked a stay in one of the hostels near the airport for the evening we arrived. We enjoyed the fantastic entertainment Fiji had to offer and met some lovely people who were backpacking. The morning after we arrived we were picked up by a tour bus with who we booked our boat travel with to the islands.
Our first stop was Malolo Island where we stayed for one night. We went in February and when we stayed on Malolo Island we were the only guests in the resort. It was what I imagine heaven to be like. We also visited Castaway Island which was my favourite, they had no Wifi at the resort at the time we were there so you had no option but to sit back, relax and enjoy the dazzling coral and marine life. While at Castaway Island, we also took a trip to Monuriki Island – where Cast Away was really filmed – and hiked through the deserted beach and swam in the crystal-clear lagoon. The final island we visited was Matamanoa Island, and it was a dream like the other two.
9. Bondi Beach, Sydney
Australia is one big adventure, and if you have a bucket list, a trip to Australia should be on there! With its pearl white sand, immense waves, and variety of quirky cafes and bars, Sydney's Bondi Beach is a must-do for holiday makers and backpackers.
We lived a 10 minute drive from Bondi so we were here all the time but this is one of my favourite photos of the beach, I took this on our second day after we moved to Sydney and it was during Autumn.
10. Chaweng Beach, Thailand
Thailand has an array of beautiful beaches and islands. I recommend them all, but one of my favourite shots is from Chaweng beach in Koh Samui. Koh Samui is one of the most popular destinations in Thailand and it has a lot to offer. It is Thailand’s second largest island, and Koh Samui is known for its palm-fringed beaches and lush rainforest, plus luxury resorts and spas.
We reached Koh Samui by island hopping from Phuket, we travelled by boat through the islands before ending our island travel in Bangkok. The best time to visit Koh Samui, or Thailand in general, is from February to August, when there’s plenty of sunshine and little rain. We spent just over a month travelling Thailand and I will cover this journey more comprehensively in a seperate post.
11. Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a must for a bucket list. Many people visit Costa Rica for its unspoiled beaches, glorious rainforests and huge selection of wildlife. It is easy to fall in love with this country.
Tamarindo is located in Costa Rica’s northwestern province of Guanacaste, it is a lively tourist town that invites surfers and sunbathers. Playa Tamarindo (beach) is a long golden strip that stretches along the Pacific with leafy green mountains in the background. Costa Rica is every adventurer’s dream destination, and I recommend a visit to Tamarindo if you are planning a trip to Costa Rica.
12. Venice Beach, California
If you’re visiting Los Angeles on holiday, you will probably try and see all the instagram worthy spots, and Venice Beach is just a small (yet bucket list worthy) part of this amazing city. At the Southern end of the world-famous Route 66, you will find Venice Beach. I recommend you spend the day exploring the area on a scooter so you can soak up the atmosphere and all the quirky elements that make Venice Beach a must-see.
We backpacked through America for a month, we mostly jumped on Greyhound busses to get around, but we also rented a car and explored Route 66. You will probably have guessed by now I have a longer post pending on our experience in America. A backpackers guide for Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco is in the works. Stay tuned and subscribe for more.